Most of my vocational career, as a magazine editor then script and speech writer, the words I wrote--the messages I penned--were by and large for the benefit of others, rarely just for me. To keep my creative energies from growing stale during that time, I wrote short stories, some published-most not.
Just for fun, during my days here at The Roses of Prose today and in the future, I thought I'd share a few. Starting us off, a mini-mystery of sorts, titled…
Just Like That
Ted and Nina met at a local dance and hit it off just like that. Well dressed and pretty with a personality to match—Nina was a prize. Ted, on the other hand, was rather ordinary. He was okay handsome, had a nice, friendly expression, decent smile. That was about it. However, in Nina’s eyes, Ted had real potential. That potential took the form of a brand new shiny car—a luxury number with a high resale value. Nina noticed things like that. Nina was a car thief who was determined to set Ted up as her next victim. Though she preferred the much nicer term selected mark.
“Nice night for a drive.” Ted glanced over as they pulled out of the dance hall parking lot. “I’m glad you suggested it.”
“My pleasure,” Nina purred. Especially since you were so easily convinced.
That was Nina’s scam. She’d invite the mark out for a ride. In their car, of course. Then, when the time was right she'd make her move. Getting them out of the car was simple enough. A quick little errand into a store usually did the trick. She always got them to leave the keys. As soon as her mark disappeared into the store, Nina disappeared too; with the car. A good criminal, she was careful to cover her tracks, driving straight to a nearby garage where she’d get her money, in cash of course, then fade away into the sunset. Or more practically onto the nearest city bus. She always wore a different color wig and never, ever gave out her real name. It confused things when the police were called and a description given. Her routine had worked well the past few months and by all indications would continue to do so.
Case in point, friendly but rather ordinary Ted.
Case in point, friendly but rather ordinary Ted.
“I just got this baby.” He patted the dash with a show of affection men seem to have for their cars.
“It’s lovely!” Nina gushed appropriately as she placed perfectly manicured fingers on her side of the dash the same way. “Really lovely.”
Not to mention the money from the sale of this baby will look and feel lovely in my pocket as well.
“A friend of mine had a beauty like this.” Ted took his eyes off the road to glance her way. “Got stolen.”
“Really?” Nina brought one hand to her cheek as if thoroughly stunned at the very thought.
“Really.” Ted nodded, keeping his eyes on the road this time. “The car was never recovered.”
“I wonder why.” Feigning innocence, Nina already knew the answer. Because I’m smart, very smart, that’s why. “Whoever would do such a thing?”
Ted shook his head. “Some people make their money that way.”
“Horrible. Simply horrible. And they never get caught.” It was a statement, not a question. It had already been established she was smart.
She cast Ted a sidelong gaze, accepted his amicable smile. Enough small talk. Time to get to work. Reaching over, she pulled down the visor mirror. To check her make up of course. After a few calculated seconds, she jerked back her hand.
“Darn! I broke a nail!” She held the end of her finger as if it were about to fall off. “Darn! Darn! Darn!”
Ted looked over, eyes wide. “Can I help?”
“I just got this manicure!” She let out a carefully crafted wail. A little drama never hurt to further a con.
Ted tried again. “Any…anything I can do?”
“As a matter of fact.” She pretended to hold in a sob. “There’s a convenience store on South Street. Could we stop for a nail file? If I fix this break now, maybe it won’t get worse.” She made sure to finish the plea in her best damsel in distress voice.
“South Street.” Ted repeated. “Would that be Stan’s Smart Mart?”
“I think so.” Who cares? It’s two blocks from my drop off site. “Would you go in for me, please? I’d so appreciate it.”
“Of course.” In no time, Ted had pulled up in front of the store, killed the engine and pocketed the keys.
“I appreciate this so much.” Nina put her hand on Ted’s arm as he started to get out of the car. “If you’ll leave the keys, I’ll just keep the heat on. It’s chilly out.”
Ted hesitated, doubt clouding his eyes. “I…uh…I really would rather not waste the gas. Prices what they are these days.”
Nina fought to keep the contempt in her gut from blooming onto her face. Some of these so called easy marks could be so irritating. “Shut it off then.” She was careful to employ a sweetness that practically choked her. “Just let me listen to the radio. That doesn’t use gas.”
“Well, okay,” Ted agreed.
When he was out of sight, Nina moved quickly to the driver’s side and turned the key. Glancing around, she backed the car out and onto the road then headed gleefully down the street.
Stealing from these unsuspecting car jockeys is almost too easy. She couldn’t help but gloat as she turned the corner, already feeling the cold, delicious cash in her hand.
Then she caught a glimpse of a police car, gaining on her. Careful to stay within the speed limit, she held her breath as the black and white caught up with her, pulled alongside then moved ahead. She’d just started to breathe again when the second one approached.
Coincidence. I’ve done nothing wrong. That they know about.
She kept her eyes properly forward, hands on the wheel at a perfect ten and two. Then the squad car in front slowed, the car behind her started to act up. At the short wail of the siren, quick flash of the overhead lights, she had no choice but to pull to the side of the road and stop. Just like that, a plan began to form. She’d tell the officer she’d borrowed a friend’s car and didn’t know where the paperwork was. Tapping her fingernails on the steering wheel, she smiled to herself. Even began to hum. It was a decent plan. Smart. Virtually foolproof.
It might have worked too.
Until she glanced up to see Ted standing by her window. A stern expression replacing the amicable one she knew so well. Mouth open, she could only stare up at him as he opened her door.
“Step out, please.”
Nina started to protest. Until, eyes falling to the silver shield he held, she numbly did as she was told. “How did you get here so quickly?”
“I got a ride with some friends. They happened to stop at Stan’s Smart Mart too.”
“Need help, Lieutenant?” The words seemed to crackle from inside his jacket.
He pulled back his collar to reveal a small, electronic device resting on his right shoulder. Glancing her way again, he spoke into it. “Thanks. I’ll soon have the suspect in custody.”
His shoulder crackled again. “Any idea what her real name is?”
“Not yet. But the fingerprints she left on the passenger side dash should help.”
“I guess you got me.” It was all Nina could think to say.
“I guess so.” That smile she so remembered sped her way at last. “Just like that.”
The days I share my thoughts and such here are the 11th and 23rd. To learn more about me and my stories, please stop by my website